Inside Madhya Pradesh’s Cow Shelters, Never Ending Wait For Funds

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The cowshed being in the middle of the city, many come here to feed their animals.

Bhopal:

A cow protection board, a cow cabinet and around 2400, Government or government aided cow shelters across the state — and still the elderly cows of Madhya Pradesh do not have enough to eat. An inspection of 4 cow shelters across Bhopal by NDTV showed that the authorities of the shelters do not get regular payments from the state government.

During elections, Congress promised to increase the financial assistance for cows to Rs 40 per day from Rs 20 per day if voted to power.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s promise of purchasing cowdung and cow urine, has also not materialised.

There are about 140 cows at the Maa Gayatri Gaushala in the middle of Bhopal city. The shelter is located in the premises of the Gayatri temple.

President of the Gaushala trust, Subhash Sharma, said the grant of Rs 20 is not only insufficient, it comes only once in four to five months.

The cowshed being in the middle of the city, many come here to feed their animals.

At Kokta Mahamrityunjay Gaushala outside the city, there are more than 600 cows. The civic body leaves injured and destitute cows here. Most of the cows are old and do not give milk.

Govind Vyas, chairman of the gaushala, has been running this shelter for 20 years.  A retired bank employee, he said they have to spend Rs 60-70 per cow just on fodder. The grant falls far short of requirement. Even that comes once in every six or seven months, he said. He uses money from his pension to take care of the cows.

Brijesh Vyas, a member of the same gaushala, said he has appealed to the government several times. “Rs 20 cannot cover the cost of water, let alone fodder. Today the price of chaff is Rs 700 a quintal. At least 25 kg of straw is required for a cow’s fodder each day,” he said.

The Nandini Gaushala in Bhopal’s Kaliyasot, which has 75 cows, received the last grant in August. The owner said there is a delay of 6-7 months in receiving government grants.

There are two types of cow shelters in Madhya Pradesh — 618 are cowsheds recognised by the government, which have about 1.5 lakh cows. Besides, there are 1,800 cow shelters built on government land with MNREGA funds, which have 2.80 lakh cows.

The government claims it pays Rs 20 every day for each of the 4 lakh-plus cows as grant . The dues till December 31 are paid, it said.

“It is true that the grant is less,” said Lakhan Patel, the minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy. “Efforts are being made to increase it. But our biggest problem is that people leave animals on the roads,” he added.

Last year, the state had passed a law increasing the Rs 1000 penalty for those found guilty of neglecting cattle or any other animal.

Data from the police helpline indicated that 45,800 distress calls about stray cattle were received in the last seven years – meaning on an average, 18 calls are received a day.

Madhya Pradesh has a Gau Samvardhan Board (cow protection board) from the last two decades. Three years ago, then Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the creation of a “cow cabinet” meant to protect cattle and promote the use for dairy products.

Website of the Gau Samvardhan board

Website of the Gau Samvardhan board

The website of the Gau Samvardhan board has not been updated since the sate elections. It says “Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan” is its president and Prem Singh Patel — former animal husbandry minister who lost the election — is the Vice-President.

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